These Wi-Fi radios have come a long, long way. Case in point, I have an old Linksys WMLS-11B from almost five years ago that requires me to spin around in a circle two times, add a single drop of blood to exactly 6.3 ounces of room-temperature tap water, and paint the Toyota Camry logo on my chest backwards before I can get the thing to reliably stream music wirelessly. Fast forward to the present day, and I just hooked up the Aluratek AIRMM01F and had it streaming music in under a minute.
Overview and Features
I need some sort of catch phrase or hook that I can give to product’s I really like. Something along the lines of “Doug’s Picks” or “Friends of Doug” or “Doug’s List of Crap He Likes” – we’ll stick to “Editor’s Choice” for now, how’s that?
Anyway, this thing is on that list. Setup consisted of screwing the antenna in the back, plugging the radio in, and choosing my wireless network. I had music playing in under a minute. You can tap into one of around 11,000 Internet radio stations, sorted by country, genre, or state. Music starts playing close to immediately and the sound quality is good enough that it sounds like it’s coming from an MP3 or CD player.
Menu navigation is intuitive and the built-in USB connection is a simple but wonderful addition, allowing you to plug in a flash drive or external hard drive loaded with music files. The radio also works with UPnP audio servers like Windows Media Player, allowing you to stream tunes from your computer. There’s also a hard-wired Ethernet connection and audio inputs on the back of the unit. If you choose a wired setup, you can use the AIRMM01F into a wireless access point. That’s a very nice touch.
Finally, the price is a reasonable $150 and the unit itself looks nice. I placed it on our fancy-pants Crate and Barrel bookshelf next to various glass jars filled with fake flowers and the martini shaker we never use and my wife didn’t notice it. That’s a good sign if she doesn’t notice a piece of electronic equipment. So you can keep this radio in your living room if you want. Or place it next to your bed and use the straightforward alarm clock function.
People who are really into AM radio are going to be left out in the cold here. So will a lot of Mac users, especially those with all of their music in AAC format. Music purchased from iTunes won’t play on this unit unless you hook your iPod up through the audio inputs in the back. Non-DRM music in MP3 format, though, such as that purchased from the Amazon Music store, played like buttah.
If you’re in the market for something like this, buy it. Then put it anywhere in your house and stream music to it, listen to Internet radio stations, or plug in an external drive. It’s relatively inexpensive, super easy to use, and works well.
Internet Radio Alarm Clock with Built-in WiFi [Aluratek.com]
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